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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch In memory of Sean Rowe and Foster Wiley This goes out in memory of “Tater” Foster Wiley, my good friend & good-hearted blues musician, the guy with biggest heart, most refreshingly original blues songs, and most miles on a bicycle in Clarksdale. Tater wrote songs about the river, about our canoes, and performed at my wedding. You cried big tears at our wedding Tater, because you thought Sarah was taking me away. Now its my turn to cry the big tears. Funeral arrangements forthcoming. This edition of the Lower Mississippi River Dispatch also goes out in memory of my best friend from High School, Sean Rowe, who had the truly mad idea in 1982 our last year of high school to not go to College and instead build a raft and live like Huck & Jim on the Mississippi River. Our college counselors were astounded, “Not go to College? You spent four years at one of the leading College Prep Schools in the world (Choate Rosemary Hall) and now you’re going to drop out and become river-rats?” Eight months and a thousand miles later we were made muddy refugees on a muddy island (the Josie Harry Bar) in February of 1983 -- my first night in the state of Mississippi. The rest is history. Sean requested in his last will & testament that his ashes be spread on the face of the Mississippi River, which will be done at some future date. Brother Sean, wherever you are, I know your spirit rolls on in the waters of this muddy river, and someday soon we’ll reunite in the waters that flow on forever. What can you do with so much loss in so short of time? Why, get out on the river and let the waters absorb the pain and provide some solace to misery. We all have our own pains & losses. Thankfully there are many wonderful opportunities coming up in which to celebrate the beauty of the world, and the deep spiritual connection all of us share, and can see made alive in the creative swirling & wild expressions of the river. Find your own waterway close to your own home and feel the way the resplendent, reflective, refractive waters lessens the pain and reconnects you to the internal order of the universe. My own consolation comes in swimming underwater, but I know many feel the same resolution just sitting on the bank. Write to me for more information about the Equinox Bear Dance on a remote river island with Cherokee healers Jim Pathfinder and Annette Waya (Sept 17-19). The following weekend is the Gather at the River Conference (Sept 24-25) at which we’ll be offering a series of canoe trips down the Chickasaw Bluffs into downtown Memphis -- at the most sacred times of day, sunrise & sunset -- and also by the magical mysterious light of the Full Harvest Moon. Lastly, is the Oct 6-9 Yoga Retreat in conjunction with Conner Burnham of Delta Yoga (deltayoga.org/2009/03/23/mississippi-river-yoga-retreat-may-23-25-2009) and Scotta Brady of Butterfly Yoga (butterflyyoga.net) Gather at the River -- in the Big Canoe! Chickasaw Bluffs Full Harvest Moon Chickasaw Bluffs Sunrise 17 miles on the Mississippi from Shelby Forest to Mud Island Daily Trips: Sept. 21-26, 2010 In the spirit of the Memphis Bridges “Gather at the River Conference” Quapaw Canoe Company is offering a series of special guided canoe trips from the 3rd Chickasaw Bluff (Meeman Shelby Forest State Park) to the 4th Chickasaw Bluff (Downtown Memphis).  Everyone paddles together in one of our hand-crafted cypress strip voyageur canoes, which are very safe & stable.  No previous paddling experience necessary.  We provide all river gear including paddles, life jackets, and emergency gear.  Riverman John Ruskey will be your guide. Tuesday, Sept 21: Full Moon “Anticipation” Float, (The Moon will be 97% full), 5-10pm, $65 each potluck supper, in recognition of the International Day of Peace Wednesday Sept 22: Full Harvest Moon - Autumnal Equinox, 5pm–10pm, $105 each, supper included Thursday Sept 23: Sunset/Full Harvest Moon, 5-10pm, $105 each, supper included (This is the official night of the Full Harvest Moon) Friday Sept 24: Memphis Sunrise,6am – 12noon, $105 each, breakfast included Sunday Sept 26: Sunrise Service on the River, 6am – 12noon $105 each, breakfast included We are offering conference attendees (and anyone else interested) the opportunity to experience the power and spiritual majesty of the Mighty Mississippi.  There is no other place to get closer to the heavens -- paradoxically on the face of the waters of the biggest river in North America! We have purposely designed these trips to connect you to the river in its most inspiring and soulful times of day: sunrise and sunset -- with the added spiritual thrill of paddling the water in the light of the full moon.   Sunset/Full Moon: The first three offerings (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) are Sunset/Full Moon trips.  Put in at Meeman Shelby Forest and paddle into the rich undulating colors of sunset as the river swirls between islands and floodplain forests.  Make a supper landing, maybe build a fire, and enjoy the rising of the moon over the Mississippi River.  Set off again in the canoe paddling now by the mysterious undulating light of the Full Moon past the mouth of the Loosahatchie River, the Wolf River, and then down along Mud Island and into the Memphis Harbor at the foot of Beale Street.  The sandbars are as bright as snowfields in the full moon and the river glistens like shiny steel. Our first offering is a special trip in celebration of the International Day of Peace -- Tuesday, September 21. Potluck supper -- bring a dish to share in peace & harmony with fellow paddlers. Quapaw will provide enamel eatware & utensils. The moon will be 97% full. The next night, Wednesday, September 22nd, is the night of the Autumnal Equinox (10:09pm CDT), also known as Mabon in the Pagan/Wiccan tradition, and celebrated in Asia with the Moon Festival. Equinox literally means “Equal night” -- and equal day. In the Northern Hemisphere we will be leaving the throes of the long hot summer days as the earth rotates on its axis and will now be cooling off with longer nights and shorter days. This will be a spiritually charged night in conjunction with a Full Harvest Moon. Thursday, September 23rd is the official Full Harvest Moon, the moon will rise at sunset and will be at its brightest as we paddle the flowing waters of the Mississippi coming into Memphis, the Pyramid, the “M” Bridge and all of downtown Memphis reflecting melismatically in the curvy language of river boils, eddies & ripples. Sunrise: The last two offerings are sunrise trips, for the early riser, or anyone who wants to partake in the truly awesome experience of paddling the river in the first light of the day as the world awakens around you, the effervescent colors of the sky & the river arranging themselves by degrees in blues, greens, yellows, oranges & reds down low on the horizon, as the angular light slowly increases, the first songs of the birds in the forest, the deer slipping away into the woods for the day, coyotes running along the banks, beaver finishing their last piece of willow and disappearing into a cut bank burrow.  Put in at Meeman Shelby Forest and paddle into the rich colors of sunrise with maybe whisps of fog lingering over the water following the main channel of the river between Brandywine islands and Loosahatchie Bar.  Make a breakfast landing on one of the big sandbars, maybe build a fire, and enjoy the intensifying light over the Mississippi River.  Set off again paddling past the mouth of the Loosahatchie River, the Wolf River, and then down along Mud Island and into the Memphis Harbor at the foot of Beale Street, downtown Memphis now bathed in the full light of mid-day.   Schedule for Canoeing Shelby Forest to Memphis Gather at the River Sunset/Full Moon and Sunrise Tuesday, Sept 21: Full Moon “Anticipation” Float, (The Moon will be 97% full), 5-10pm, $65 each potluck supper, International Day of Peace Wednesday Sept 22: Full Harvest Moon - Autumnal Equinox, 5pm–10pm, $105 each, supper included Thursday Sept 23: Sunset/Full Harvest Moon, 5-10pm, $105 each, supper included (This is the official night of the Full Harvest Moon) Friday Sept 24: Memphis Sunrise,6am – 12noon, $105 each, breakfast included Sunday Sept 26: Sunrise Service on the River, 6am – 12noon $105 each, breakfast included All trips are from Shelby Forest to Mud Island, 17 river miles. Meet and park your car at Mud Island (secure parking). Shuttle to Shelby Forest Boat Ramp. Return to Memphis by canoe, your car will be waiting. Price includes life jackets, paddles and all necessary river & emergency gear. All ages welcome. We have life jackets for all sizes & shapes! Meals include all the food prep, campfire cooking, cookware and eatware, and cleanup. Wear shoes & clothing you don’t mind getting muddy & wet. Swimmers: bring swim wear and towel. Sun screen or sun protective clothing for sensitive people. Leave towel & change of clothing in your car. Be prepared for possible rain showers. Bring daypack for personal items. Place cell phone, camera and any other electronics in zip locks, drybags or dry box. Schedule subject to change if inclement weather closes in. You don’t have to pay until meet time for any given trip, but advance payment required to hold seat. First come, first served. Payment by cash or check made out to Quapaw Canoe Company. Call John Ruskey 662-902-7841 or 662-609-2707 for information or last minute updates. Gather at the River is the creation of a group of caring people of faith who cherish the Mississippi River as a sacred trust and want to equip each of us to address the issues challenging the river. more information about the Gather at the River Conference, please go to website: www.gatherattheriver.org This is being sent by John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company, from the banks of the Sunflower River in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi. www.island63.com.